Tyler Glasnow had already given up a two-run homer and four of his six walks when he went back out for the fifth inning.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash might have waited a smidge too long to go to his bullpen in Game 1 of the World Series.
Glasnow was charged with all four runs in the small-ball fifth by the Los Angeles Dodgers — three singles, four walks, and three stolen bases that tied a Fall Classic record — as the Rays lost 8-3 on Tuesday night in the franchise’s first Series game since 2008.
“I think ultimately it was kind of a lack of strikes thrown right here,” Cash said. “That’s not ideal, especially against an offense like this that can really capitalize on the free passes.”
The 6-foot-8 Glasnow started fast enough in his first World Series start, pumping the occasional 100 mph fastball while matching postseason veteran Clayton Kershaw out for out through three innings.
But after striking out three around the second of his three walks to Corey Seager in the third, Glasnow walked Max Muncy to start the fourth. Two batters later, Cody Bellinger hit the fastest pitch he ever has for a homer (98.2 mph).
“I felt a little weird in the beginning, made the adjustment I think in that third inning, and started to feel pretty good,” Glasnow said. “As the game went on, I think I was just getting on the side of it, getting a little rushed, going forward just a bit too quick. Too many walks, not executing well enough.”
Glasnow, who struck out eight, started the fifth with consecutive walks to Mookie Betts and Seager, but Cash stayed with him long enough to give up Muncy’s run-scoring fielder’s choice after a double steal by Betts and Seager, and Will Smith’s soft single to center.
“He had plenty of stuff to keep us right there,” Cash said. “The walks are definitely not ideal. Glas would be the first to recognize that. We didn’t do a good job holding the runners on. We can’t let them get the double steal right there.”
Cash said he stuck with Glasnow against Muncy because he thought that was the best chance for a strikeout with runners at second and third. Muncy hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Yandy Diaz, who lunged toward second to make the stop but had to throw across his body. Betts beat the throw with a headfirst slide.
The six runs were the most Glasnow has allowed in seven postseason starts. The six walks and 112 pitches were career highs for the 27-year-old right-hander.
When he finally pulled Glasnow, Cash was boxed in because he needed lefty reliever Ryan Yarbrough to face the left-handed Bellinger, who popped out.
Yarbrough had to stay because of the three-batter minimum, and righty-hitting Chris Taylor had an RBI single before Kiké Hernández pinch-hit for the lefty Joc Pederson and singled in another run.
Glasnow, one of the shrewd moves that helped the Rays get this far when he was acquired for ace Chris Archer at the trading deadline two years ago, had to pitch the opener because Tampa Bay struggled to close out Houston after winning the first three games in the AL Championship Series.
Aces Blake Snell and Charlie Morton had to pitch Games 6 and 7, with Morton winning as the Rays avoided joining the New York Yankees (2004 ALCS against Boston) as the only teams to blow 3-0 leads in the postseason.
Snell is the probable starter for Game 2 on Wednesday night, with Morton the logical choice in Game 3 after the first scheduled day off in the middle of a postseason series in this pandemic-altered season.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors with the walks,” Cash said. “I’d like to see us get back to our strength tomorrow and that’s attacking and getting early strikes and being able to put guys away.”
Glasnow wilts, can’t stay with Kershaw as Rays drop Game 1